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Kubernetes / Service Mesh

Rancher Adds Full Support for Windows, the Istio Service Mesh

Rancher's Kubernetes distribution now can manage Windows and the Istio service mesh.
Oct 8th, 2019 10:34am by
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The latest release of Rancher Labs’ Kubernetes platform, Rancher 2.3, adds support for Windows containers, integration of Istio service mesh, and cluster templates for large-scale deployments of Kubernetes.

In March, container support for Windows was declared stable in Kubernetes v1.14 opening the door for vendors to manage Kubernetes for Windows-based applications.

In Rancher’s announcement, Taylor Brown, principal program manager for the container platform at Microsoft lauds Rancher for being one of the first to market with its offering.

It delivers on Rancher’s mission to enable users to run Kubernetes anywhere, according to Sriram Subramanian, research director at IDC.

“Organizations are standardizing on Kubernetes, and with more Windows-based workloads getting modernized, having a container management platform that specializes in Kubernetes while providing support for Windows is key,” he said.

Multiple companies have had support for Windows on Kubernetes in beta, but Rancher Labs touts being first to release enterprise-grade support as general availability.

Microsoft and Rancher Labs will be doing a series of events on Windows and Kubernetes, according to Peter Smails, Rancher’s chief marketing officer.

The Kubernetes documentation on Windows notes several limitations. Among them: It only applies to Windows Server 2019, and Windows is only supported as a worker node, meaning users still must use Linux master nodes with them.

“I actually don’t think that’s desirable, that’s just the current state of Windows today,” said Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO, adding that the company is actively working toward removing that limitation.

“It’s just there’s such a pent-up demand right now. Windows support for Kubernetes has existed for like close to, in some form, for close to three years. And I think initially, everyone was very, very excited. And it was clearly not ready. …. And I feel like now it’s finally the time to actually bring this into mission-critical enterprise production use. … I think there’ll be enough Windows shops who wouldn’t mind putting up a couple of Linux nodes.”

Rancher 2.3 also introduces cluster templates to enable organizations to enforce consistent cluster configurations across their entire infrastructure. With the templates, operators can create and reuse well-tested Kubernetes configurations across all their cluster deployments. It’s also a way to eliminate configuration drift or misconfigurations which could introduce security risks as more clusters are created.

The new version also includes tighter integration with Istio service mesh. While Istio has created quite a bit of buzz in the industry, there hasn’t been a high level of adoption, and those customers trying to use it have been struggling, according to Liang. Rancher has supported Istio and other service meshes in its Rio project, but this integration has focused on making Istio easier to use.

Expect to hear more about Rio at KubeCon + CloudNativeCom 2019 in November.

Feature image: “Mullioned window” by Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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